Resilience Day: Kathleen Kirk

I woke at 5:01 this morning to first light, first bird. My window is open to the spring now, and this is how I am making my way through, day by day, attuned to Nature. Nature is resilient. Life wants to live, and that’s why this new coronavirus is ravaging the world. It wants to live. We want to live, too, but we won’t be untouched. “We’re all in this together,” we keep saying to rally and bolster ourselves, and we’ll all be affected by the losses, too, and by the changes. I’m glad that some of the changes might be good.

Home more, people are noticing the birds in their own back yards. Oriole, cardinal, hummingbird, indigo bunting. Hawks are back in my neighborhood. Lots of fox sightings. People are tending their gardens, fixing what’s broken in their homes, repainting their rooms. Learning to do with less. Learning to be creative with food, with pastimes. Communing with their kids, their pets. Growing reflective, getting in touch with their gratitude. All this is evidence of our resilience.

People are coming together virtually to help each other. On Facebook, you can say what you need, and generous folks will provide it or give advice on where to find it. People are collecting and delivering donated supplies, lunches, dinners. People are sewing and distributing face masks. We are resilient as a community.

Some of us are lonely, vulnerable, stir crazy. Gosh, I hope we help each other through this, that we don’t give in to the stress, deny the realities, pretend it’s not happening and go on as before, aggressively maskless but perhaps wearing “hate face” instead of a human face. Yes, we’ve seen some of that out there, and it’s not pretty. It probably comes from fear, so we can understand it if we can’t admire it. And that may give us the extra ounce of compassion that keeps us from becoming hateful or bitter in response. Resilience takes some effort.

So do new routines. My new routines include walks on the trail and around the labyrinth, intermittent yoga, signing in and out of work-at-home on a different browser, grocery shopping very early in the morning once a week, and wiping everything down. New routines, like stretching exercises, keep us resilient. I try every day to witness some beauty, to see what’s blooming—purple iris, white anemone, the first blue spiderwort, the last pink bleeding heart.

I’m glad it’s almost summer, not just because it might help lessen the virus, but also because of the light outside my window when I wake early. The light helps. I’m a poet, so let me quote this sentence that Emily Dickinson wrote in a letter: “This world is just a little place, just the red in the sky, before the sun rises, so let us keep fast hold of hands, that when the birds begin, none of us be missing.” We are all in this together. Let’s hang on.

Kathleen Kirk is the poetry editor for Escape Into Life and works part time, behind-the-scenes at the Normal Public Library. She is the author of eight poetry chapbooks, most recently Spiritual Midwifery (Red Bird, 2019) and The Towns (Unicorn Press, 2018). She is a poetry judge for the annual ACT-SO student competition sponsored by the NAACP. She is a newly-elected board member at Heartland Theatre.

Photo Credit: Ave Rio

Image Credit: Eva Mlinar for Fine Acts, @evamlinar

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